Washburn Wisconsin is where I claim to be from. This weekend was Homecoming which occurs every 5 years. Pretty much everyone from the past comes out of the woodwork and back to town. This year, the folks at the hardware store decided to put on a mountain bike race, to my surprise. I had brought my CX bike with me just in case my friends wanted to go for a ride on the local ski trails. When I got there on Thursday, my classmate was like "You're doing the mountain bike race, right?" And I'm like "What race?" And he's like "DUUUUUDE!!!!".
Yada yada yada, I got up at 8 after a pretty serious night on the town. I rolled down to West End park, registered, and warmed up. 45 of us rolled out on a gravel road, straight into a snowmobile trail. I made the selection of the top 5 in 5th place. We took a right and the snow machine trail turned up some kind of evil power line, right-of-way situation with a steady 4-5 minute climb. The front pack split with the top two (Aaron Swanson and Paul Belknap) pulling away. I settled into third. At the top of the climb, the trail flattened out for a bit then the course turned onto a gravel road. By that time, another guy (Noah Michaelsen) pedaled up to me. We worked together almost like teammates, trading pulls. Something went audibly wrong with his bike and we stopped to try to fix it. He was missing a brake caliper bolt, so no dice.
In the end, he did not contest for third place, which was bittersweet. I tried to give him the apple pie I won. That's right! Apple Pie! (The overall winner got 2 pies) We got to talking, and it turns out he's married to a girl I knew in high school.
Overall, it was a great race. They probably didn't need chip timing with only 45 people. The course resembled a mini-Chequamegon 40 which was cool. It will be great to come back next year.
Thanks to Steve H. for the photos. You are a BEAST!
I had my powertap on the bike. I'm going to post my power data in a little bit ...
I covered most of everything in my previous short posts. However I just have to say, hats off to the all of the 35-39 comp age group. We are pretty freakin' fast. Horner was flying. Rogowski methodically took me down in the twisty single track. I'm looking forward to Buck Hill and especially looking forward to the Border Battle where we will take down the sorry Badgers.
I had a fun incident free (mostly) race at Buck Hill last night. I had a great sprint to the finish with a guy from Grand Performance. He won by half a wheel because of his shaved legs. My single track skill needs work, but everything else felt good. I didn't do that well results-wise, but I started at the back of the pack which cost me a lot of positions. Apologies to the dude I cut off and crashed in front of. I sprinted in front of him to get into a single track section, then promptly slid out. I did well riding hard up hills and driving through straight flat sections.
Today, I Frankensteined my Powertap wheel back together with some XT mountain bike hub parts. So far so good. It has been out of commission since March. I would like to get some use out of the thing before the end of the year.
I got stung in the head by a yellowjacket while riding around Lake Calhoun. I couldn't get my helmet off before she got me. I hope the thing spends eternity burning in bee hell.
I hate making excuses, but my bike really didn't have it yesterday. Right off the gun, my newly cabled bike demonstrated a skipping chain. I half fixed it on the fly about 3/4 the way to the single track. I got in there in about 6th place. With some misfortune by the guys ahead of me, I moved up a couple spots on the whoopty-doos. From there, I kept pace with the leaders, including Matt H. and Rogowski. I eventually made it to the front of the pack, and built a gap. I think I had 30 seconds about 2/3 the way through the 1st lap. That's when my bike took a dump.
1st, the new cables decided to stretch or break loose from something and get out of sink by exactly half a shift. I got off the bike and fixed that, and it stayed good for the rest of the race. About 5 minutes later, still on the 1st lap, I made the mistake of shifting into the granny and I got an almost incurable case of chainsuck. I got off the bike and spent some time fixing that. When all was said and done, a ton of people whizzed by. By the second lap, my bike was back into racing shape.
I had a good time riding the single track on the front end of the course. The bontrager Mud Xs were absolutely great in the muddy, curvy, hilly singletrack. I could punch it at full throttle up the steepest of inclines, and tear through the greasy corners. The second time I got to the Stairway climb I decided to walk up it instead of my usual strategy of riding 'till I can't. I really regret not trying. Not that it would have made me finish any differently, but I am just disappointed I didn't give it everything on a hill. I had a solid ride through the quarry, both times. Some other riders were a little squirrelly due to the limited traction, but for me, it was just point and shoot, with no issues at all.
Overall, I think I had the most fun at this race than I have all year, and I didn't have a total disaster like every other time. Unfortunately, I think I blew it trying to "taper" for that race. Now I need to basically start over from scratch and get ready for the end of MTB season. Next race, I'm going to be sure I take my bike for a dry run a couple days before.
I mostly got everything race related in my initial post. I would like to add that Mylie Cyrus makes much better psych-up music than the death metal I hear pumping from most cars in the race parking lot. I rode from mpls to 'kato listening to K-dweeb. A couple notes: Usher has given up. His new stuff is pretty plain (OMG). Beyonce is both highly fine and highly musical. Lady Gaga is highly crazy and a Madonna wannabe.
My shifting is still frustrating. I spent about an hour trying to figure it out tonight to no avail. There seems to be a lot of friction in the cables. Shifting up the cassette takes about as much effort in the thumb as twisting off a beer cap. My front shifting is still solid, so I have 3 speeds, at least.
I had a great "no excuses"race today. Rogowski schooled me on the corners and in the mud while I pushed him on the climbs. In the beginning, I was first (at times second) up the hill. In the end I was gasping for air in a pretty solid effort. More to come...
I got a new cassette and chain. The XT cassette rivets interfered with the spokes on the ZTR race 29 wheelset. I noticed that the old XT cassette (also 770) had much shorter rivets. So, 5 minutes at the grinder, the wheels are happy again. I could not, however, make my shifting work well. Things are just not quite ok in that department.
Taking a lesson learned from last race, I'm bringing a spare wheelset with 29 X 1.9" tires. If the sport guys are coming off the course with lots of mud on them, the narrow tires are going on. Comaring the wheels, the ZTRs are waaaay lighter than my old Bontrager Rhythm Elite set. Luckily, the brake rotors line right up, so no adjustment will be necessary upon switching wheels.
Check out my new ass-kicking Bontrager Home Wrench repair stand:
I got to the race in Duluth and saw a bunch of really muddy, miserable looking Sport racers. My wife and I immediately talked about turning around and going home (in a way I'm glad I didn't). The parking lot was a mudfest. I needed to throw the Jeep in 4WD to navigate. There were quite a few racers milling around the ski chalet. Talking to them, I got the feeling I was in for a really weird race.
So I paid up and went for it. Off the line, I moved to the front and led up the hill. My legs felt great. I was ready to rip even after the hill. The mud came right after the crest of the hill. I started dismounting frequently while in the woods. Lots of people with better setups and better running ability passed me. At the end of the day, I finished 17th overall, 6th again in my age group. Nils Boberg finished 36 minutes in front of me. Good for you, dude! He is really fast, and must have had an ideal setup. The expert group was won by Jack Hinkens, almost an hour ahead of me on the exact same course. I would have brought up the rear in that group.
In the future, if I'm going to race in the mud, I'm going to do it with mud tires on an old wheelset. As it is, I learned about mud and I nabbed some series points bringing me into 3rd place in a very competitive group.
Executive summary: I got up the first hill in first position with teammate Chris B. in tow. I hit the mud and began the death march. The whole thing was an experience - not exactly mountain biking. The course was literally 30% ridable. The weather has sucked more and more with each of the state races. More to come....
I went out what I thought was kind of hard. I did enough to enter the single track in 6th position in the 30-39 y/o wave. Then, I just couldn't hang. Last Saturday, I went to Afton with my friends, then I could push the middle chain ring in my highest or second highest cog. At the Afton race, I was relegated to my granny. I don't know, I may have just gassed myself on the first climb trying to stick with the top guys. In the end I ended up 6th place in my age group again, 28th overall. I have to say I am dissappointed I didn't do better than the first race. I thought I was a better climber. The thing is, all the comp guys are good climbers. Oh well. It was still a lot of fun. Toward the end, me and a guy from Wookie Juice had a great battle for position. I think he actually had me by 4 minutes due to the wave placing, but it was great motivation to keep racing.
I'm a little wiped out from riding to work 3 out of 4 work days this week. Here's a view across the stone arch bridge toward downtown, midway through my ride. The weather has been perfect. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I did. I'm ready for some couch and TV action.
I raced at the first state series race yesterday. I was real close to going home due to an hour long downpour. Luckily, they pushed back the start of the races. The sport class guys rode first, taking all the mud on the trail, and putting it on their bikes. Thanks guys!
This was my first comp race. It went very well. I got a satisfactory start. Not great. I entered the single track in roughly 20th place in my group. The mud that the Sport guys and gals had fun with an hour earlier was just about completely gone. Anyway, I didn't have that much passing to do on my first lap. I started seeing the back of the expert women group about 3/4 way through the lap. In the end, I wound up 22nd overall out of 96 and 6 out of 18 in my age group, less than a minute behind the age group leader. Last year, this was one of my worst races in the sport class. I'm very happy I did better and that I decided to stay.
The MNMBS race organizers did a great job dealing with the weather. It was funny, though. Because of the mud, the sport guys actually had a longer race than comp. Judging by last year, the Afton race will not be that way. Hopefully, I can come to that race a little better rested. I'm not sure how I'm going to dose out a ~2 hour effort there.
Here's a couple phone pictures of the sport men as they came out of the single track on the first lap. The photos don't really convey how much mud there was. These guys deserve a hand. This looked rough!
So I get to the race, I warm up decent but not great. I got a lot of socializing in which was better than a proper warm up anyway (Cool to meet you Josh!) My three main goals for the race were to 1) get a good start 2) Ride the trail clean 3) Race really hard.
For the start, I was really really casual about getting to the line. That put me in the very back row, about 5 deep and 10 wide, give or take. At the state race last year, a friend clocked us at 35 or so MPH on the rollout with me leading. That same friend, in the same position as me for this race had us at 25 mph. So I did what I could, rubbing wheels and banging shoulders on my way up the pack until the log jam at the single track entrance. So, I get a D for goal 1.
For the first lap, I found myself in a pack with some familiar faces, including a really crafty lady racer who was killing it. About midway through the lap, Brenden, a guy I was trying to keep up with, passed her and I panicked. Right away, I bobbled a section and apparently fell off. A couple riders slipped by, and I got back on and eventually regained my position, but Brenden was out of sight for the duration. I eventually got behind this other guy who's sole mission was to hit every fu**ing jump and obstacle. After another half lap, I finally got around him. I rode the rest of the course clean. B- for goal 2.
Near the end, I passed a guy, Rick Ochs (Cool to meet you too!) who was gassed. He stuck right to me until about 1/4 lap to go then blasted by me never to be seen again. Two more guys that I passed earlier passed me back between then and the finish. My brain was pressing "turbo" on the controller, but the legs didn't have it at that point. I was giving it everything and that's a good thing. A for goal 3.
I'm looking forward to the race on Saturday. Hopefully I remember to snap some photos. Cheers!
So there I was rolling along Bren Rd., going past Lone Lake park in Hopkins or Minnetonka or something, when I saw it. A huge freakin' coyote! Make sure you keep Fluffy and Mittens in the house or supervised!
Other than that I had an uneventful pleasant ride out to Orono and back.
It seems to me there are three distinct limiters in bike racing.
Endurance. If you lack endurance, you will slow down throughout the race and perhaps bonk. To get better at this, ride lots and drink a sports drink.
Muscle power. If you go backwards up hills, in sprints, on flats, or in any steady effort, you may lack muscle power. To get better, practice that effort (1 min., 5 min., or 20 min.) which you are bad at, over and over.
Recovery. If you take an inordinate amount of time to get the heavy feeling out of your legs from an anaerobic effort, recovery is your weakness. To practice this, do workouts with short recovery, walking the line between repeatable hard efforts and puking. I'm not an expert, but to get the bad juices out of your system is a complex process that involves your muscle cells, liver, and probably more. I think that's why racing can sometimes leave you feeling like you just pounded 10 shots of tequila.
I just did a workout and I can tell you that number 3 is getting me down. Please pass the tequila.
Got my bike, an '08 HiFi Pro, back from Freewheel with a frame replacement. The mechanic found a crack and Gary Fisher waranteed it. 2X thanks! The new frame, a 2010 HiFi Pro, has larger looking tubes, aluminum rather than carbon seat stays. The rear pivot completing the 4-bar is now concentric with the axel. I think the frame is a smidge heavier, but I can't verify that. With my new wheels, it weighs in at 25.0 lbs. The green black and white paint job is infinitely cooler than the royal blue.
The new name is Grave Digger. I gotta get some pics.
My only qualm with the bike is that the position of the bottle cage causes the little red switch on the shock to toggle when getting a drink. I may flip the shock and see how that works.
I ran into a racer acquaintance at Wirth on Sunday. Holy crap! I did the fastest lap in a long time riding behind him! It was cool though; he was playing tricks, just like in a series race. Like getting around a slower rider in a tight spot, then hitting the gas, leaving me to wait for another opening while he motored away. Whew!
I got my long ride in today, a great day for flying kites or sailing. I had to be creative in finding a route that starts into the wind so I don't die on the way home. Normally from SW MPLS, I head west to Orono. Today I went to Plymouth and Maple Grove. I have to give Vicksburg Lane 1 out of 5 stars as a bike route. It's quite hostile, with 50 mph speed limits, sections of no shoulder and lots of stoplights. Back to the drawing board. If you rode today, hope you stayed out of the wind!
These are the 1/2/3 guys that know what they are doing. Note, I'm not anywhere near this group. Thanks to Jeremy D for this awesome photo.
I raced the 2nd Opus last Tuesday - just the C5 baby race. It was my 1st road race ever and it showed. I started close to the front, never taking a real pull, but definitely more exposed than necessary. On the second lap, some guy made a move and I followed. I tried to take a pull and work with him, but I must have dropped him in the process. 400 yards after the break began, I looked back to see I was alone with the group bearing down. I sat up and sat in. I hung on through the second lap, but it was such big effort to try the break, that I couldn't stay with the pack when they started going fast for the 1st of 3 sprints. At the finish of the 3rd lap, I was, like 5 seconds off the back. From there, it was an individual time trial to avoid getting lapped. Toward the end of the race, say the 8th lap or so, I started to pass some lapped guys. Then on the 9th lap, I found a guy like me who must have just popped off the back. He found some legs to follow me, and we had a fun sprint for "not last place".
It was a fun experience, but there were some moments when I thought the whole pack was going down. I found that I really do not like sitting in. I don't know how roadie sprinters can do it. Until next time ..... Seacrest out!
I can't legitimately call this a "Crit" since I never raced one. I rode over to Hopkins yesterday to check out the Tuesday Night Worlds. Coming over there I started having these inklings of putting myself in the Cat 5 race. Trouble is I was on my 'cross bike with about 20 psi in the tires (tubeless knobbies). I got over there, and got my pump out and started pumping away. In doing that, I managed to completely flat my rear tire some how. I didn't race, but I took some photos with my camera phone ...
I got home just fine after borrowing a real pump from a racer. Thanks!
Some time soon I'm going to plan things a little better and hit this race. Also newly added to the calendar is the May 8 race at Hillside in Elk River. Cheers and happy tax day! (blech)
I hit up Theodore Wirth today. This time I had the no. 2 mountain bike. No. 1 is in the shop getting souped up. It was a short, slow ride. I was 0/2 on the uphill rock garden and so was my impromptu riding partner. With the HiFI 29, I clear that thing 10 out of 10 times. The trail is still in phenomenal shape. Tonight: Artcrank! Tomorrow: Murphy!
Wirth and a host of other local mountain bike trails are opening. I took a spin through TW this afternoon. It was really nice, but my setup was far from ideal: I had my 'cross bike plus a massive messenger bag with all my work clothes and junk. I'll take it for April 9, though!
I have been laid up for two weeks with a bad cold. I'm still coughing a bit, but not too bad. I got some antibiotics after 10 days of not getting any better. Now that I've come to, I see the weather has turned rather nice. I started my bike commuting yesterday. 15 miles each way makes for a pretty good daily workout. During my 2 week cold, I did practically nothing .... except brew!
Last month was a good, hard training block. I was really feeling the fatigue after my ride on Sunday. I'm liking the Monday hot yoga routine. Though it's technically a workout, I always feel fresher after than before. This week is my rest week, which I'm taking extra serious, since I'm sick as a dog.
For the last couple weeks, my MPLS to Orono ride has been clear. Unfortunately, the path from Wayzata out along the north side of lake Minnetonka has been impassible, even on a mountain bike. This blocks my way from Orono to Excelsior, and forces an out-and-back route. At least it's outside. The transition from cross training to actual riding is nice.
In: bike rides, yoga
Out: racquetball, XC skiing, weights
I recently made some upgrades to my foul weather bike (left). I scored some 2.25" Trailbear tires at the bike swap for a great price, and added some Planet Bike fenders. The new fenders work ok, but the front one rattles a lot when I take a hand off the bars. I'm not sure what to do about that. Currently, this bike is a really weird mix of bargain basement and high end parts. Hopefully, it can still be re-tooled as light race bike if needed.
For your viewing pleasure, I leave you with this excellent video:
As I did last year, I started my serious mountain bike training ridiculously early. The less ridiculous part is the nice variety of activities I've been getting in. My weeks have been going something like this: Monday yoga, Tuesday racquetball, Wednesday 1-2 hr trainer ride, Thursday weights (very heavy, low reps), Friday off, Saturday and Sunday skiing and trainer time depending on weather. I capped it off today with satisfying 5 and 20 minute time trials (testing protocol per Coogan and Hunter).
I think I really let my self go, relatively speaking, during the cyclocross season. I was trying to mix it up with the Cat 3s in the B races, but I never came away with great results. The training was really slack at that point. After that, I rested for a couple weeks, then got serious again.
Playing with the new (used) PowerTap has been fun. I ride so much on the trainer, that in the past I was able to gage my output level by the speed on the computer. To do this, mount the sensor on the back wheel. It helps to look up the power curve for your particular trainer.
My most significant accomplishments for this training block have been: 1) Creatively modifying my schedule - I got sick Tuesday the week of the city of lakes loppet, then, instead of powering through a hard week, I decided to make it a rest week and get recharged for that race. The following week (ending tomorrow) was then to be a quasi-rest, quasi-on week. I feel great for the nice result at the COLL and for my good trainer ride today. 2) Squatted 255 lb. 8 reps, 6 sets, with lots left in the tank. This is a big improvement over last year in terms of reps. 3) Hitting my workout time goals without dorking up my personal life. 4) Had a great 5 min. time trial today according to the benchmarks in the Coogan/Hunter book.
We'll see how things shake out as I enter the base 2 period as defined by Friel. Here's some good reading for the self coached mountain biker:
Joe Friel, The Mountain Biker's Training Bible
Coogan and Hunter, Training and Racing with a Power Meter (useful even if you don't have one)
I did the Loppet again this year. I beat last year's time by 10 minutes (2:07 -> 1:57). Unlike last year, I rested up for the race, had good wax, better luck getting through traffic, and no equipment issues. Last year my speed lace boots untied themselves at the top of the first hill. I snipped those off, now I just tie them like normal shoes -- perfect! The snow was really fresh this year. I used the Swix HF7, but it didn't seem like $70 worth of glide to me. Oh well. I still got my ass kicked on the lakes, where the big guys flew passed me. I might have done just enough to sneak into wave 1 for next year.